I read a quote this morning from Elon Musk. It said, “I hate when people confuse education for intelligence. You can have a bachelor’s degree and still be an idiot.” There is so much truth in this statement, and when it comes to leadership, this statement rings even louder. Leadership is not about your degree or title, it’s about constantly making yourself and others around you better. Your ego has no place in leadership. It doesn’t matter if you have every degree that can be obtained, or you come from a prestigious college, if those still exist these days, or you hold the highest rank in the company or organization. All that matters is how you treat those you lead, and how you are helping them become more successful.
When leadership leads with ego, leadership becomes ineffective. Ego creates problems that are near impossible to solve. Ego divides teams and causes friction within relationships. Ego places the people that really matter in last place. Ego focuses less on building a positive, team centered environment and more on a unyielding, self-centered environment. Ego claims to know everything with little actually being known. Ego refuses to admit mistakes, nor does it take ownership of failure. Ego blames the team rather than works harder to help the team. Ego is the demise and downfall of any company, organization, and leader.
As leaders, it is imperative that we check our ego at the door. Ego should have no place in our personal or professional life. We should constantly be focused on learning, growing, assessing, reflecting, changing, and adapting. We should be less concerned about ourselves and our status and more concerned with the people around us. We should be quick to listen and slow to speak, and if there is something that is said or done that is not right, we should correct with humility and compassion.
You might think I am making leadership out to be soft and tolerant; on the contrary, leadership must hold the line and ensure the team is moving in the right direction. However, leadership is responsible for making sure this happens in an effective and focused way. The best way to get a team to outperform the competition is to establish an environment where the focus is on the team, not the product. The product is only as good as the team that produced it. If there is no team, the product will suffer. If the focus is only on the end game, every defeat that is suffered will continually hinder the company from growing and ultimately winning. Leadership isn’t about barking orders and demands for the team to perform, but rather working alongside each team member and helping them achieve greatness; even if that means they outperform leadership.
If leadership thinks they have all the right answers, and never listen to the people they are leading, they might miss the one piece of information that will take their company from good to great. Ego says, “Shut up and work. Your ideas don’t matter.” This is a major problem if you want to see your team and company become successful. Leadership should welcome thoughts and ideas, as well as feedback from the team. The only way we can improve is if we have an open mind and a reflective mindset. This doesn’t mean you have to accept everything that is said or suggested by team members, rather, you give your team the opportunity to share their ideas, reflect on what is said, and bring them into the process of making a decision for or against the idea. Leadership does have a different perspective than others on the team, but that doesn’t mean leadership knows everything or has all the right answers.
- Ego causes detrimental problems to teams, business, and relationships. To continue to grow and succeed in business, or whatever you do, you must check your ego at the door. Otherwise, you might never reach your full potential.
- Leadership is not soft and tolerant. Leadership is the driving force to get things done. However, to ensure this is done effectively, it is critical to build relationships with your team, encourage collaboration, and have an open mind. It doesn’t mean leadership does everything the team says, but rather leadership listens to the team, invites the team into the decision making process, and then guides and directs the team to the best decision.
- Leadership is not always right, and to think that they are is detrimental to the success of the overall team. Leadership is fallible, and it is important that those in leadership understand and recognize this. It is just as important for leadership to own failures and take responsibility when the team struggles.
- Humility and compassion are good qualities to have in leadership. These qualities build trust and positive relationships within the team. If you want to see your team rise above the rest, be humble and compassionate toward each team member.
Leadership is a way of life. Don’t allow your ego to destroy your potential.